Jacob Ciocci Inspiration Superhighway 12 January 2006 - 11 February 2006
Jacob Ciocci, Inspiration Superhighway, 2005, installation view, Foxy Production, New York

Inspiration Superhighway, Jacob Ciocci’s first solo exhibition, inaugurates Foxy Production’s new storefront gallery space in West Chelsea. A member of artist collective Paper Rad, Ciocci has assembled richly textured works that reflect upon the media’s ever more sensually and psychically intimate connections with young people. Drawing upon his experience of growing up in the information saturated 1980s and 1990s, Ciocci presents narratives that are in essence existential quests, where characters seek meaning from cultural chaos.

Inspiration Superhighway comprises a large cube installation containing a six-channel video and sculptural environment, three smaller video cubes, paintings with video elements, and drawings. The large cube contains a boy’s bedroom with a shrine made from character toys, and six video screens that tell the story of the his struggle to leave the confines of his space. The narrative represents the child’s attempts to make sense of the confusing and overly complex system he feels trapped within.

In one of the smaller cubes, don’t worry be happy: stressful mix, a remixed video of the popular 1990s song plays with added cartoon characters and animation effects. The soothing intent of the original song is underscored in the remix by a sense of tension and foreboding. The two other video cubes form a single piece, infinity wanderers, that appropriates characters from the 1980s children’s fantasy film, The NeverEnding Story, into a new narrative structure. Each cube has one character trapped in an ultimately futile search for the other.

Ciocci’s paintings are collages of pop cultural objects, images and video, including GIFS downloaded from the internet. Like reliquaries, the works assemble fearful mementos of childhood: monsters who personify a child’s fear of adulthood and the wider world. Reminding us perhaps of Cornell’s boxes, Ciocci’s collections offer a metaphorical passage back to earlier times, to a pre-adult period of imagination and questioning.

With pen and spray-paint, Ciocci has created a number of vibrant works on paper that place mythic characters within fantasy fields of brilliant color. Clearly tapping into his work in the underground comic scene, he has produced provocative drawings that call to mind the bizarrely inventive and intricate allegorical landscapes of Bosch.

Inspiration Superhighway may evoke Kabakov and his character-driven installations, where constructed environments suggest the struggles of the people imagined to inhabit them; except that Ciocci, drawing from popular entertainment, presents identifiable figures engaged in odysseys within the narratives or game-plays he creates. His detailed systems, constructed from our cultural detritus, present compelling mythologies that fall tantalizingly between the personal and the universal.